Throughout her lifetime, Williams raised millions of dollars for non-profit causes, including for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Fox, in fact, later wrote about Williams' impact on his foundation in a foreward to Williams-Paisley's 2016 memoir, Where the Light Gets In.
"Linda Williams was one of those people who come into your life -- friends, family members, sometimes colleagues -- whose compassion for others and outlook on life resonate with you forever," Fox wrote. "As our foundation’s first major gift fundraiser, she inspired our staff with her ability to convey to supporters both the complex neuroscience we were driving and the simple optimism that our efforts would speed a cure."
Williams was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a relatively rare form of dementia, in 2005, and fought through the loss of her speech and communication skills to raise more than $3.5 million for the foundation before retiring in 2007.
In addition to Williams-Paisley, Williams is survived by her husband, Gurney Williams, and two other children: Jay, a fire lieutenant, and Ashley Williams, an actress best known for The Jim Gaffigan Show. A memorial service for Williams is scheduled at Christ's Church in Rye, New York, on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations made to the Alzheimer's Association or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
ET sat down with Williams-Paisley in April, where she discussed the influence her mother had on her life, and the difficulties of seeing her suffer from dementia.
"She wanted the best for me. She pushed me in great ways," Williams-Paisley shared. "I always say she's that voice in my head that still tells me to go for it and do things and have adventures and have a party!"